My recipe of personal and professional improvements to produce an upward spiral of success

I don’t want to waste my time learning new things that have no clear end goal in mind, my self-education is centred around personal and professional development. If well tuned-up they both interact to create an upward spiral of success.

My personal development relies on:

  • Being physically active
  • Eating healthy & fasting
  • Sleeping & waking up early and napping daily
  • Doing things I enjoy that aim towards long term goals

1- Being physically active

That is I swim and I walk. These two activities are low impact light exercises they are easy and because of their nature, it is practically impossible to get injured. Thus you can enjoy these types of exercises daily for years without encountering a notable issue. A quick note is that you need comfortable footwear if you are going to walk for a long distance.

2- Eating healthy & fasting

My diet is based limiting the amount of food I eat by a third, taking omega 3 supplements, olive oil, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding bread and pasta, and more importantly fasting 15 days in a month. I have noticed that fasting improves my focus and free more time for work as I won’t be eating or drinking during daytime.

3- Sleeping & waking up early and napping daily

Healthy sleep hygiene is the key to being productive at work. As a result, I boosted my energy level and I was able to improve my work quality. I also was able to work more hours daily by sleeping early and waking early. I am committed to sleeping before 10 pm and waking before sunrise. Napping at noon restores my energy level to continue working on my project for the rest of the day.

4- Having long term goals

Having stretch goals that spice up your life is a great source of joy and challenge. For me, it is becoming a top-notch full-stack programmer and starting my own online business by developing web apps. Striving for this goal will keep me outside of my comfort zone and will push me to improve my web programming skills and myself. Becoming a master programmer and an entrepreneur may certainly lead to a better career and life satisfaction since I see programming as a personal goal too.

In the next part of the article, I will delve into how I am adjusting my approach to learning this new skill.

1- Traditional way of studying and its drawback

Whether at university or school we used to learn new skills without an obvious connection to their real-world context, it was often theoretical. For that reason, being an efficient student does not automatically mean being an efficient professional. I adamantly believe that when studying we should acquire skills that have a direct impact on our careers or objectives. My approach shifted from tutorials and practice exercises to a real-world project identical to work done by a professional. The area of interest here is WordPress development.

There is no doubt that as a newbie one has to learn the basics first, we can’t jump into coding without learning the ABC. Meanwhile, going from one tutorial to the next without doing a real project won’t teach you how to do the actual coding. It may give you the impression that you are learning and moving forward, it requires less effort and it can be fun. However, developers spend their time coding and doing other tasks such as thinking about a solution, Googling, debugging, reading documentations, etc.

Learning how to code (or any other task) by mimicking what an actual professional does is certainly hard, especially in its early stages. This methodology looks simple and logical but practising it is frustrating and difficult compared to what we used to do at school and university. However, neuroscience and cognitive research confirm that reading results in only 10% retention (audio-visual 20%) compared to the act of retrieval and testing oneself by doing 75%. For more details check this article, besides for in-depth knowledge about effective learning and studying read this book or explore this very popular free course on Coursera.

2- How I tweaked my learning in web programming:

Reading through freecodecamp forum and medium articles I came across different stories about how aspiring developers found work as programmers. This can be summed up into mastering the basics, doing a couple of projects and showing them to the public and recruiters in GitHub and/or a portfolio website. A quick note here is that reading about the industry is crucial, we should broaden our knowledge and not be only limited to coding. (Of course, this also applies to other fields.) Reading about different programming languages, CMS, listening to podcasts, etc helped me to choose my career path as a future developer.

As I should avoid at all costs the tutorial loop, that is going from one tutorial to another without doing an actual project, I have started working on a CMS theme and in the process of doing this project, I had to use Git so I learned for example how to push my projects to GitHub. Besides, when working on a fundamental PHP codewar challenges I had to study again some basic PHP and do lots of Googling and stack overflow research to discover RegEx and more. It is a great experience to learn by doing it takes more time and effort but that is the right way to expand our knowledge.

However, it is worth noting that some new programmers jump quickly into building their own app which can be complicated for them as beginners. Thus, in case they fail, they give up and think that they are not meant to be programmers. Consequently, one has to keep in mind to go step by step.

To practice by doing it is safer to be progressive and start by the first two steps:

–   Basic code challenges in tutorials & codewar

–   Mini projects

–   Larger and more advanced projects

“Never mind likes and dislikes; they are of no consequence. Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.”

George Bernard Shaw

I can’t deny real projects are challenging and I get stuck often, however, I enjoyed the struggle, the difficulty and I learned to be more patient and persistent, as I am aware of the progress I am making.

“We can call this maturity, or self-discipline, but it’s really about developing the skill to coexist with our feelings and take action anyway.”

Gregg Krech

This is a quotation from this book The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology.

I can also add that the fact of having more self-control on doing what I have to do gives me more confidence and positive energy to succeed. The confidence and energy are enhanced by a healthy lifestyle based on a healthy diet, fasting, good sleeping habits, being active and personal interest and attachment in what I do.

Personal and professional development are complementary they feed on each other and hand in hand they bring progress and success in one’s life. Yet, tangible results may take months or even years of consistent and continuous work.

What I shared in this article is not final as there is always a room for improvement. Thus, feel free to write in the comments below what you think about this piece and if I have an important idea to add.

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